Patch 5.3 is here, the item upgrade vendors have returned, and it's time to talk about everybody's favorite things; gear. What are the pixels I can pick to push my kitty to the top of the heap? Let's take a look.
Weapons and trinkets first
As a feral, getting a good weapon is your highest priority. It's the jelly to your peanut butter, the ketchup to your french fries...okay, I may be hungry, but you get the point, it's a necessary complement to ensuring you can be an effective damage dealer. You have four choices for weapons; three drops from Throne of Thunder (Shan-Dun, Breaker of Hope, Jalak's Maelstrom Staff, or the Darkwood Spiritstaff) and the weapon with a legendary socket from 5.0, Gao-Rei. The differences in the ToT weapons are fairly minor, so just get the best you can, and upgrade it ASAP. If you can't get into ToT yet, the +500 agility from the legendary gem on Gao-Rei makes it a worthwhile fill-in. Oh, and if you've completed Chapter II of the legendary quest and received an Eye of the Black Prince, don't forget to buy another one when you get a weapon upgrade.
After your weapon is sorted out, the next step is to find trinkets. The Rune of Re-Origination, of any item level, is a game-changing trinket and is a large DPS increase, but adds significant RNG and reforging changes to maximize it (see my column last week for more on this). After the Rune, the Vicious Talisman, from valor points, and Renataki's Soul Charm/Bad Juju from Throne of Thunder are all fine choices and roughly equal. I'd stay away from the Talisman of Bloodlust; it's not terrible, but it's not as good as the other options. If you're looking for a quick slot-filler, the Relic of Xuen can still be found on most auction houses, and is only slightly worse than LFR trinkets.
Before I move on, a quick digression about VP gear, as I've heard some inaccurate info out there about people staying with LFR items over VP items. Yes, the VP gear is loaded with hit and expertise, and you will run into problems with having too much; my character has seven VP pieces and about 11% hit. That said, the extra agility that comes with an ilevel 522 piece more than makes up for a bit of wasted hit or expertise. Now, if you have a thunderforged vs. heroic question, or heroic scenario vs. normal...that's a toss-up that you'd want something like Ask Mr. Robot to solve.
After the weapon and trinket, the next thing you'll want is a good helm, in order to socket the Capacitive Primal Diamond from the legendary questline. (If you've been following me on Twitter, you've heard me bemoaning my helm drop luck; that orange gem looks nice and pretty in my bag, but doesn't do me a whole lot of good.) You have three helm options; the crafted Quilen-Hide Helm, the Lightning-Eye Hood from Jin'Rokh, or the tier helm from Twin Consorts. Of the three, the Hood would be my preferred choice; with an agility socket bonus, it's considerably better than the other options, and the ideal off-set to pair with four other tier pieces. It also helps that it drops from the first boss of the instance, so your odds of getting it "should" be relatively good.
After the helm, you'll want to fill out the rest of your tier set slots (first chest and legs, then shoulders and hands). If you're unlucky with tier drops, you can get a ilvl 522 chestpiece from Oondasta; all the other slots can be filled with valor point pieces. In general, you should stick with 522 offset pieces over 502 tier pieces; the feral set bonus is pretty good, but not enough to overcome the loss of agility from 4 pieces that are 20 item levels lower. (Now, if you have one 522 tier piece, it becomes a tossup; two or more, and you'll definitely want to swap in the 502's necessary to get the set bonus.)
Finally, fill out all the smaller slots; waist and feet, then neck, wrist, back, and rings. Again, all of these slots can be filled by valor point gear, excepting one ring slot and feet. For those, you'll just have to get lucky with drops from ToT, though the Signet of the Shieldwall/Dominator's Signet is cheap, easy to come by and nearly as good as a 502 drop. (Yes, there's a crafted boot option, but preference should go to the helm if you can affort to get things crafted.) If you've reached Exalted with the Kirin Tor Offensive, the Refurbished Band of Jin is also an option for rings.
Get your upgrades!
Once you've gotten all your slots filled with decent gear, you can start upgrading. This is pretty common-sense; you'll want to follow the order I've laid out here in terms of spending VP, starting with weapons, trinkets, then everything else. I wouldn't fret too much about upgrading a piece you might replace, since it only costs 500 VP to fully upgrade one item. If your feral is an alt that you don't frequently valor cap, however, then you'll have to be more choosy. If you already have a 502 from LFR, then it's probably better to not replace it with a 522 VP item; focus on the bigger upgrades first.
That's it for gear for this week! Remember, most of this advice is fairly general; if you want specific advice, the best option is to model your character in a simulation tool using both sets of gear that you have a question about, and use that output to make your decision. Best of luck on your drops!
Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.